Reflection for the Solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection (Cycle C)
Our deep understanding of the Christian faith as well as the zeal and sincerity of our faithfulness in serving the kingdom of justice and peace, primarily depends on our understanding of the Easter solemnity, and on our general attitude towards the annual remembering of the life, death and resurrection of the Christ.
The Easter event, is without a doubt the key hermeneutic that renders our Christian beliefs and praxis sensible to an alienating world: We all can and must struggle in an ongoing discipleship because our Master is not a long-dead historical prophet, but the One who lives forever.
Thoughts and feelings upon the discovery of the empty tomb may have filled the followers of the recently executed Nazarene teacher with much awe and wonder, but also with much bewilderment and fear, that some of them may have had deep anxieties over an impending “vengeful wrath of heaven” in the light of the oppression at Calvary, rather than abundant joy over “the glory waiting to be revealed.”
In any case however, it was for their history and culture, an earth-shaking experience with the transcendent Mystery, a strange encounter with the divine unknown, an episode which when further reflected within the context of God’s love, has inspired – and continues to inspire – fragile hearts to build communities of justice and peace.
Simply said, our Church is the continuing maturation of the movement of the primordial Christian communities who through trial-and-error, bears witness to the truth about the risen Christ and consequently, is committed to live and die as Christ did: mirroring the selfless love of God, and encouraging all peoples to respond with the same selfless love for God and for others.
Year after year, it hopes to continuously build upon the successes and failures of its faithfulness, that through a climactic remembrance of his rising from the dead, we are with fortitude and perseverance reminded that our Christian vision and mission is God-given, supernatural and eternal; a responsibility to works of mercy and charity emanating not from self-love but from self-emptying; a gift of and a calling to answer to the graciousness of the Spirit.
With this notion in mind, the celebration of Easter must suggest at the very least, a sense of “progression.” Supposedly imbued with the purpose and life-direction of trying to “become Christ” to the forsaken, Easter Sunday should present us with the opportunity to renew our profession to this objective, and to rejuvenate our praxis for it.
In other words, Lent and Easter becomes a yearly period for “self-audit and self-improvement.” However, if we are perceiving Easter from a sense of “hiatus” or “respite,” as if it were a yearly “chance for taking a break” from the monotony of our daily lives, that is, if we are giving meaning to our entire existence only in terms of the constant pursuit of material security through the achievement of power and a respectable image, then Lent is an “unwelcome obstacle,” Holy Week is an “anticipated escape” and Easter is “the long-awaited return-to-normalcy.”
The forty days of potential conversion is only a mere forty days of suspending the existential status quo, which we are never intending to change.
Is Easter Sunday for us the day signifying our coming back fully to the affairs and desires we have temporarily held in compliant self-denial forty days ago for the sake of religious and cultural traditions? Is Easter Sunday for us the day marking our enjoying again of delicious food and drinks after enduring weeks of compulsory fasting and abstinence? Is Easter Sunday for us the day of relieving ourselves from the Lenten duty of mortification, and of indulging for ourselves once more in the pleasures which amid our everyday drudgery, provide instant gratification? Is Easter Sunday our most convenient excuse for relaxing our “prayer habit” or for detouring from “the path to holiness?” Is Easter Sunday our most convincing rationalization for “thinking again for ourselves” after having dedicated much time in “thinking for those in need?”
Shouldn’t Easter Sunday be the time for reaffirming our promise to care more for those who have been entrusted to us in service, without having to fight for and defend position and authority? Shouldn’t Easter Sunday be the time for rethinking our notion about the “common good” and changing the way we empower and govern ourselves? Isn’t Easter Sunday the most appropriate kairos to recollect our ultimate accountability to God?
Unless we can fully resolve that Easter marks the point of inflection from selfishness to selflessness; from pride to humility; from indifference and hatred to responsibility and compassion, our dream for a sustainable justice and peace will continue to elude us. Indeed, the Master will come at a time no one expects.
May our reflections for this Easter season bring new and fresh dimensions in the way we must observe our forthcoming elections on the ninth of May, and in the way we must look at our future as a nation responding to the call to divine love!
Brother Jess Matias is a professed brother of the Secular Franciscan Order. He serves as minister of the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Fraternity at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Mandaluyong City, coordinator of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups of the Capuchins in the Philippines and prison counselor and catechist for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.